For nineteen years, I worshipped and served with one church community that I loved. I’ve shared here why I felt compelled to leave, despite how that place and those people had become my second home, my second family.
And then I went and found a new church home, what I often referred to as my safe, soft place to land during a horrible life transition.
And I have spent four-and-a-half years there. And it has been good for my soul. It was good for me to learn that I had what it took to find a church on my own. It was good for me to see that there isn’t just one church in the world, that Jesus is in many, many churches, that faith can take different forms and the sky won’t fall down around you.
During that time, I began dating and then eventually married my husband. And, as you probably know, we are finally living together full-time now. And our sweet little church is in a transition of its own: a move to the downtown area of our city with an energized mission.
In other words, it’s a new season for Richard and me, and it’s a new season for our church.
However, our paths – we have decided – are diverging.
It is with gratitude and sadness and excitement all mixed in together that we are saying goodbye to The Orchard and striking out to find a church home of our own that is truly ours (and not just mine with him joining in).
I have said my goodbyes. We were affirmed and supported for our decision. We are leaving well, with no burned bridges, doors always open to us.
But before I officially close the door, I want to share the one main gift I received during that time.
When I showed up, I was four months past my divorce date. I was raw. I was vulnerable. My wounds were not healed yet. (Shoot, some of them still aren’t.) And not just marriage-wounds, I had church-wounds as well. I dragged myself in there planning to rest. For a long, long time.
And I was invited to do just that. To soak up. To just come and sit and take in. For as long as I wanted, as long as I needed.
But in the same breath I was basically told, But you have something to offer…even now…in your pain…you don’t have to wait to participate or to serve until we deem you healed. You determine that, we don’t. So let us know what you want to do and when.
Coming from a place where I had recently been told that my situation was “too fresh” for me to serve, these words were like hot tea on a sore throat.
So, sweet one, if you are in a place of pain and you need to stop all the serving and heal up, please, please listen to your heart and do so. Take all the time you need. We will be here waiting for you when you’re ready.
But if someone else is telling you that you shouldn’t be serving right now (as opposed to asking you if you’d like a break), that is telling. And though you very well could use a break, you can also find another place to serve if you’re no longer being allowed to.
You have something to offer now. And I thank my church for teaching me that.